New national foreclosures on real estate properties decreased 4.3 percent in August after two consecutive months of increases, according to a report from RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties.

Despite the decline, August’s new foreclosure numbers were higher than any other month except for July, according to the report. A total of 75,599 properties entered some stage of foreclosure or were foreclosed on – one for every 1,530 households.

“After consecutive months of increasing foreclosures, the rates across the country seem to have stabilized in August,” said James J. Saccacio, RealtyTrac chief executive officer. “But it appears that the overall decrease in national foreclosures may be somewhat inflated due to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.”

The three states most directly affected by Hurricane Katrina, which made landfall on Aug. 29, all documented significantly fewer foreclosures in August than in July. Louisiana reported a total of 174 new foreclosures, a 62 percent decrease. New foreclosures in Mississippi and Alabama plummeted more than 80 percent, much higher than the national average.

When the foreclosure numbers from the three states are excluded from the July and August reports, nationwide foreclosures show a smaller decrease of 2.8 percent.

“While no one’s really certain at this point what the long-term impact of Katrina will be on the foreclosure market, in the short term the fundamental processes of filing and recording foreclosures have been completely disrupted,” Saccacio said.

Texas and Florida continued to dominate the foreclosures market, accounting for more than 30 percent of the nation’s total foreclosures. With to 13,453 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, Texas replaced Florida as the state with the most foreclosures reported. Florida foreclosures dropped 18 percent, but the state still reported the second highest number of foreclosures – 10,175.

The high foreclosure numbers in Texas and Florida helped position the two states’ foreclosure rates among the five highest nationwide. Texas recorded one foreclosure for every 599 households, 2.6 times the national average. With one foreclosure for every 718 households, Florida’s foreclosure rate was more than two times the national average.

California’s foreclosure rate stayed well below the national average despite a 21 percent jump in foreclosures. The state documented 4,810 properties entering some stage of foreclosure– the third most of any state, with one foreclosure for every 2,539 households.

Illinois and Ohio were among the five states with the highest foreclosure numbers for the second month in a row. Ohio documented 4,570 foreclosures in August – just 22 fewer than in July – and one foreclosure for every 1,047 households. With 4,251 properties entering some stage of foreclosure or being foreclosed on, Illinois documented one foreclosure for every 1,150 households.

Arizona and Hawaii both registered foreclosure rates among the five highest nationwide thanks to rising foreclosure numbers. Arizona foreclosures jumped 45 percent, and the state reported one foreclosure for every 752 households – more than two times the national average. With 1,773 properties entering foreclosure or foreclosed on, Hawaii’s foreclosure rate soared to 5.9 times the national average. The state recorded one foreclosure for every 260 households.

RealtyTrac publishes a national database of pre-foreclosure and foreclosure properties.

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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